BBWAA gets it right with King Felix

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I have to admit after seeing how the National League Cy Young voting went on Tuesday I wasn't sure how Thursday's American League balloting would turn out.

Roy Halladay was the clear winner, but the top four vote getters were also the top four pitchers in wins for that league. I wasn't sure how that was going to bode for Felix Hernandez, who, of course, won just 13 games for the 101-loss Seattle Mariners this season.

In the end, though, it didn't matter, because the Baseball Writers' Association of America rewarded the best overall pitcher on Thursday, not just the one who won the most games when it named Hernandez the American League Cy Young Award winner.

It wasn't even close, as Hernandez placed first on 21 of 28 ballots cast, second on two, third on three, and fourth and fifth on two others for a total of 167 points. Tampa left-hander David Price received four first-place votes, but finished 56 points back of Hernandez, while American League wins leader CC Sabathia placed first on three ballots and finished third.

When you look at Hernandez's stats, though, how could it have been anyone else?

When you look at Felix Hernandez's stats, though, how could it have been anyone else?.
Despite a pedestrian 13-12 mark for the 101-loss Mariners, Hernandez was dynamite this past season, pitching to a major league-best 2.27 ERA in an AL- high 249 2/3 innings. The most telling stat -- in his 12 losses, the Mariners produced only seven runs when he was on the mound.

His 3.10 run support was by far the lowest in the American League. Hernandez led the AL with 15 starts in which he allowed one run or less in at least seven innings - the most by an AL pitcher since Pedro Martinez (15 in 2000) and Roger Clemens (19 in 1997). He also lasted at least eight innings in 16 starts, including an AL leading five starts of eight shutout innings.

The Venezuelan, who was the runner-up to Kansas City's Zack Greinke for this award last season, also finished the year strong, as he allowed eight earned runs over his last 10 trips to the hill.

When you look at all that and take the wins away, there really was no other choice. And let's be honest, wins are the one stat that the pitcher really has no control over.

Sabathia made a strong case. He was the best pitcher on the best team in baseball for the better part of the year. Whereas Hernandez didn't pitch a big game from May on, every time Sabathia took the ball it was a pressure-packed situation. In the end the big lefty led the AL in wins, was second in innings pitched (237 2/3), albeit with a ton of offensive support.

Although, if anyone other than Hernandez would have won on Thursday I would have placed money on Price. He had six more wins and his other numbers were comparable to Hernandez, as put forth the best pitching season in Rays history, going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA and 188 strikeouts in just 208 2/3 innings.

However, he only pitched to a 3.64 ERA away from spacious Tropicana Field.

Bottom line for me was had Hernandez pitched for the Yankees or Rays he would have won 26 games. But how would Sabathia or Price have pitched if they had the awful Mariners behind them? We'll never know for sure, but I will guarantee they would not have been as dominant as King Felix.

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